It's great thing to complete a task. The hours of chain gang pick-axing and shoveling have paid off and we now have a rubble line where once there was tarmac....oh, and a large bank of ex-pathway fragments which need to be disposed of. Task completion is in the eye of the beholder.
At intervals along the length of the path we've discovered short pieces of metal tubing sticking up. We know that going back to the 1920s and possibly earlier, part of the front lawn was used as a tennis court, so I like Dunc's hunch that these tubes held the poles for a netting wall. Now that we're almost in agreement (as a sportsman, this is a hard one for Dunc to swallow) that the tennis court won't be reinstated or replaced with bowls, badminton, or velodrome facilities; we see little reason to keep this walkway. By turfing over it rather than resurfacing with hard landscaping, we'll save some much needed cash and hope to end up with a beautiful uninterrupted carpet of lawn.
Turning our attentions to some of the other pathways, we can see that not only is there more tarmac to lift, but our borders of beautiful fulsome greenery have encroached well beyond their allotted boundaries. Were it not for the fact that they're growing over the paths, I'd tend to leave them - I love the scale of the more established trees and shrubs we have here. What's more, haircuts really aren't my thing. Dunc's hedge-trimming hand, however, has been itching for some time now, and as the last of the rhododendrons fade, so does my resolve to allow Mother Nature free reign.
With a dispassionate eye, it's easy to see that the outward growth at ground level is tantamount to the bushes gasping for breath. The taller trees and shrubs have been left to climb and spread and it seems kinder to crop and redistribute sun quotas more evenly than to leave everything to struggle on, clambering this way and that for survival.
However, there's a checklist to work through before wading in.
1) Sweep for nesting birds. Clear. Check.
2) Consult TPO map. Many of our trees are subject to Tree Protection Orders....does a very tall holly bush count as a tree? Is it or the laurel 'tree' protected? Seemingly not. Check.
3) Can we cut back rhododendrons as soon as they've finished flowering?.....Ah....no....best to leave them until winter when they're dormant. OK, so this will be another one of our 'speciality' multi-stage tasks.
The scale of the gardening we've taken on here dawned fairly early on, and Dunc very sensibly responded by ordering power tools. He was adamant that he wouldn't make life easy by getting a ride-on mower (....something about enjoying the exercise.....?!!!!!); but that an electric gadget - something with a main body and different interchangeable heads - some sort of electric Worzel Gummidge, was the way forward for some of the other large scale garden jobs. We went to pick it up from a trading estate near Wakefield. Never have I felt more out of my depth and downright girly in my life. But Dunc and the sales rep seemed to bond beautifully, slipping into engine and allen key patois without a blink.
Dunc and I agree. The time is now. Bring on The Worzel......
And for afters - taming the polytunnel forest.